Social networks, apps and games
Icon for Houseparty. Waving hand emoji.

Houseparty

Houseparty is a free video chat app where you can talk to people one-on-one or in groups of up to eight, with people you know and people you might not. You can also play games with the people you’re chatting to.

13+

Official age rating

At a glance

Kids use this to...

Play

Create

Learn

Connect

Expert view of the risks...

Sexual

High Risk

Violence & hatred

Medium Risk

Bullying

High Risk

Suicide & self-harm

Medium Risk

Drink, drugs & crime

Medium Risk

O2 Guru top tip

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Switch to ‘Private Mode’

In settings, turn on ‘Private Mode’ so that all your chats are automatically private.

What you should know

 

People can video call you without you having to accept (including people you might not know)

 

Houseparty finds your friends through your phone contacts, as well as through Facebook and Snapchat.

 

Houseparty isn’t automatically set to private. This means that when you’re using the app, your friends (or even friends of friends that you may not know) can automatically start a video chat with you, without you having to accept. This makes it really easy to start video calls with someone and your child could be contacted by people they don’t know.

 

Know how to use Houseparty privately

 

There are a few things you can do to boost your child’s privacy. With your child, go to settings (click the smiley face and then the cogwheel button) and switch on private mode. This way nobody uninvited can join one of your chats without you giving them permission.

 

If you’re in a chat, you can also click on the padlock icon to lock your chat and keep it private. If your child feels uncomfortable in chat, show them how to exit by clicking the ‘X’.

 

You can also change your child’s location settings by going to the permissions section and switching location off. Making sure your child’s location is private helps to keep their personal details and whereabouts safe.

 

We think it’s most appropriate for over 18s

 

Because Houseparty isn’t automatically private and might connect you with people you don’t know, we think it’s best if under 18s don’t use Houseparty. If all the privacy settings are set up properly, it might be appropriate for those aged 16+. However, whatever your child’s age, if you decide to let them use it, take the time to set it up together and follow our tips below to help keep them safe.

 

You can play games on Houseparty and send 'Facemails'

 

One reason Houseparty is so popular is because you can play games on with your friends. Some games are based on trivia, Pictionary or Heads Up. This is a unique feature which a lot of other video chat apps don’t have.

 

You can also send video messages (called ‘Facemails’) to your friends as well as written messages (called ‘Pass a note’).

Top tips for staying safe

Exploring apps, sites and games together is a great way to involve your child in the decision-making process.

Be positive about what you see, but also be open about your concerns. Ask them what they think is appropriate and what worries them.

If you decide it’s not appropriate, then make sure you explain your reasons why.

You might decide it’s ok for your child to use. If so, make sure you follow the tips below to ensure it’s as safe as possible. And work out a time when you’ll next discuss the app.

Help your child think about what they share online and who sees it. Compare it to what they would be happy to share offline.

You might want to start by asking:

  • What kinds of things do you share online?
  • Should we share everything?
  • What shouldn’t we share?

Use examples that are easy for them to understand: “You wouldn’t give your number to somebody you don't know on the street. Is somebody online you don't know any different?”

Listen to their answers. And be positive and encouraging.

Remind them that they shouldn’t share private things, such as:

  • personal information, like names, emails, phone numbers, location and school names
  • other people's personal information
  • links to join private group chats
  • photos of themselves
  • photos of their body, such as sexual photos or videos.

Your child might receive upsetting or inappropriate messages or comments from other users on Houseparty.

If this happens, they can ‘ghost’, report, block or unfriend other users by clicking on the smiley icon and selecting ‘My friends’.

For each friend you can:

  • Ghost - stay anonymous from certain people without deleting them. It means they won’t see when you’re online but you can still choose to talk to them
  • Report – report someone if they’ve sent something that breaks the community guidelines (these are called the Party Guidelines)
  • Block – choose to block someone without them knowing. This means they can't contact you. You can also unblock them if you want
  • Unfriend – stop being friends with someone, which means they can no longer contact you. Unlike blocking, you can’t undo this without the other person being notified

Explore these features with your child and talk about when they might want to use it.

And remember to let your child know that they can always talk to you about worrying things they see online.

In settings, make sure ‘Private Mode’ is switched on so your child’s chats are kept private. This should help keep your child’s contacts to people they know.

People you know or people you don’t know might try to add you as a friend on Houseparty and you can choose to ‘accept’ or ‘ignore’ them.

With your child, show them how to ignore friend requests from people they don’t know, even from friends of friends. Remind them video chatting is best kept to people you know, like close friends and family members, as a great way to keep in touch.

People can also use the ‘wave’ icon to say they want to chat. If your child doesn’t know who is waving at them, remind them to block the user.

And be aware, even if ‘Private Mode’ is switched on, people can still search your name and try to add you. In settings, you can change your child’s name and username to something more anonymous so they’re harder to identify in searches.

Explain that you understand the internet is a great place to play, create, learn and connect. But remind them they can talk to you if anything upsets or worries them.

Reassure them that you won’t overreact – you’re just looking out for them.

And if they feel like they can’t speak to you, tell them to talk to an adult they trust, like a teacher or Childline.

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Talking to your child

Having open, regular conversations with your child will help you to really understand and explore the online world together. Our tips and advice can help you start these conversations.

Talk about staying safe online

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